US Women’s hockey stalwart Kacey Bellamy retiring after nine world championships

(NEW YORK) — One of the veterans of the United States women’s hockey team is hanging up her skates.

Kacey Bellamy, who has appeared in nine world championship and won gold seven times as part of Team USA, is retiring, she told ESPN Tuesday.

“To be honest, I didn’t need another Olympics to justify my career,” she said. “As a professional athlete, as a professional female athlete, your priorities change. I was ready to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

The 34-year-old was set to play in the 2021 World Championships this month, and likely make her fourth Olympic team next year. But when the World Championships were abruptly canceled and rescheduled for August, Bellamy decided that “it wasn’t fair to keep going if my heart wasn’t completely in it.”

“I thought about other people’s dreams and aspirations,” Bellamy says. “I’d most likely make the Olympic team, but deep down, that’s not fair to me or my teammates. Because am I mentally happy? And the answer would probably be no. I’d just be forcing myself to get an extra check mark. There are girls that I played with for the last three years that haven’t made an Olympic roster, but I know deserve to be on that team personality-wise, character-wise, skill-wise. This could be their chance.”

Bellamy joins 2018 Olympic captain Meghan Duggan, and veterans Monique Lamoreux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoreux-Davidson in retiring within the last year.

“Kacey is one of the more underrated players in the program,” longtime forward Julie Chu said. “Her complete level — her ability to play tough, play physical, and push the envelope, challenging teammates in practice to get better, or challenging opponents and shutting them down — is incredible.”

Duggan said that Bellamy could undoubtedly still play at a high level if she wanted to.

Bellamy tells ESPN that she expected to retire after the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, when the U.S. women won Olympic gold for the first time in 20 years, but was talked into giving it another go by her general manager.

She told her teammates of her decision last week in an email.

As for what comes next, Bellamy says that she would like to remain in the hockey world, but isn’t sure what form that would take.

“Who knows if I get into coaching again, if I want to start my own business when it comes to fitness and educating the next generation on everything I’ve gone through and my teammates [have] gone through,” she said.

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